Amidst the preparations for their next trip to NOTDEC, John and Carlee have written about the kinds of issues they address on their visits ... especially the one in June 2016.
John writes …
What we do
In our trips to NOTDEC we visit children living with their wider family, at school or vocational college etc. and we play football, volleyball and basketball with them. It's far more fun than the Olympics! And when visiting children at boarding school we always try to take them some “tuck” – juice, a loaf and margarine. It may not sound very special, but the children are always delighted!
We also try to provide help and advice across a wide range of subjects – healthcare, building and vehicle maintenance, estate management & land ownership, purchasing, accounts records and procedures, auditors meetings, management procedures, relationships and future plans.
Vocational training for NOTDEC kids
On this visit [June 2016] we investigated the options for vocational training, and experiences of students who have attended courses.
The news is encouraging, with a wide range of courses, often several at a school. There’ s hotel management, catering, cooking, waiting, and bar skills; hairdressing, beauty, fashion design, tailoring, and interior design; IT, mechanics, electrics, building, carpentry and civil engineering; nursing, midwifery, and lab work.
Most courses are in Kampala, though there’ s one college at Fort Portal much nearer NOTDEC and a nursing school at Kagando Hospital. Courses are generally for 2 years – starting after P7 or S4, according to subject.
NOTDEC’ s suppliers for solar energy & hot water systems, the tractor and the pickup are all prepared to consider providing work experience and/or apprenticeship, depending on numbers and timing.
But prepare for the worst
However good it is, vocational training can’ t guarantee work. Time and again, we were impressed by the importance of knowing how to use land to grow food – simply for when there is no work.
Our conclusion was that NOTDEC must consider providing such training at Kabirizi for all students regardless of their other skills/training.
Beyond old wives tales
We visited Kira farm which runs a 12 month course for 40 older students. Training students to leave behind their grandmothers’ norms and think for themselves produces confident, capable and knowledgeable individuals. Students with little academic ability are surprisingly successful in their chosen vocations.
Sowing the seed
Two establishments we visited taught Christian discipleship as a core foundation. The resultant quality of the young men and women was noticeable.
Innovations at NOTDEC
- Thanks to Martin Haywood’ s 4000 mile sponsored cycle ride, 3 solar energy systems now provide hot water for laundry, baby bathing and adult showers.
- Western Uganda gets many brief but dramatic electric storms. So we have now installed a lightning conductor on the water tower – NOTDEC’ s tallest structure.
- A new irrigation system is being evaluated on the farm – with tomatoes doing well.
We’ d heard about Uganda-based Afripads (www.afripads.com) and visited them in Kampala. They make washable sanitary pads, said to last a year! We bought 30 packs for female staff to try. When we return in October we’ ll see what they think, and hope to provide them for girls and staff to reduce the cost of disposable pads.
Vocation, vocation, vocation
We visited some of the older children at school. Most won’ t qualify for university, so we’ ve got them thinking about what vocational training they would be interested in doing instead.
Food for thought
We were asked to look at how the children’ s diet could be improved. NOTDEC’ s farm provides cabbage, aubergines, tomatoes and onions. So, compared with other Ugandans, their diet is good.
But, working with Milly and the nurse, we agreed a weekly regime including milk, eggs, fish, extra greens from each bungalow 's veg patch, and millet flour & soya added to the daily porridge.
We distributed the clothes left in the store. 29 newly arrived boxes will be unpacked when we return in October. NOTDEC also buys from local markets — second-hand; but the joy when they get “new clothes” is very special.
Teaching at NOTDEC
Four groups have morning school 5 days a week.
Upper class has 6 children who are being prepared to start school in January. Middle class has 9; and Nursery or Baby class has 20.
The largest is group is called “Pre Baby” — for all tots who can walk. This is a real respite for busy housemothers from babies, washing, cooking and cleaning.
The teachers also teach the children before chapel on a Sunday morning. It's great fun — lots of enthusiastic singing and dancing, plus praying and learning a Bible verse.
Each visit is full of challenges. There are times of laughter and fun, moments for tears when you see the children loving and helping each other. We continue to be amazed at how well they do with what they have.
John & Carlee Leftley